On Tuesday I was talking with a brother about our life in Jesus, and (of course) His life in us. I shared with him that I had recently been reminded that the Jordan River (pictured here near its source) flows into both the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. The water is the same, why are the two Seas so different? I haven’t known this brother for long, so he doesn’t know yet what you know about me—that I often see in nature pictures of the Spiritual.
I was trying to encourage/challenge this brother to move from the place of a river to that of a lake: Allow God to flow through you (share with others what God is showing you), yet seek to take in more from Him than you pass on. “So, you think I should be teaching others?” I responded, “Not necessarily in any formal way, but in some regular, meaningful ways—yes. But let the Sea of Galilee be your model, rather than the Dead Sea. Both have the Jordan River as their primary source. But, while the Jordan River runs into both, the Sea of Galilee also allows the river to flow out of it as well—it both receives and gives—while the Dead Sea only receives.” In the Dead Sea, water which was fresh, free flowing, producing lush vegetation for miles and miles, has stopped moving and become toxic to most life. It can be fun to float in, but even a mouthful can be deadly!
I remember an old song titled “channels only.” Now, I don’t intend to ruin the song for those who love it—and I think there is truth conveyed by it—but at the same time it doesn’t speak to the tendency of channels to run dry. Consider a reservoir instead (even though it’s a poor lyric [Reservoirs only, Blessed Master . . . just doesn’t work]). A reservoir is designed and formed for both distribution and storing, thereby promoting fullness of life even in the “dry times.” I know many will object, saying we should all be so filled with the Spirit at all times that we have a constant supply—and I would affirm all that. But I also know that in our experience of life, even those living “full of the Spirit,” face times when we have a sense of dryness (I recall the chapter in Tozer’s Root of the Righteous, “What About those Dry Spells?”). It doesn’t mean the Spirit isn’t present and at work, but the reality of His presence and our experience of His presence do not always coincide. Thus, while I proclaim the reality of Christ in us, flowing through us, I remain convinced that He intends for us to be more of a lake (or at least a deep pool) than a fast-flowing river.
I remember an old folk song, familiar to me as rendered by Simon and Garfunkel, with a lyric “I’d rather be a forest than a street! Yes I would, if I only could, I surely would.” How about you? Would you rather be a river or a lake, if you could? Have you talked to Jesus about your desires? Have you expressed to Him your willingness to be formed by Him into all He intends? For what He intends for you is far better than you can imagine—I’d rather be one of the innumerable little springs at the headwaters of the Jordan (like this one) than anything else, if that is what Christ intends—but I don’t want to cling to my role as a small spring if He intends to form me into a river or a lake. Indeed, these images, along with those of a pond, stream, deep pool, and many more, might be a fitting description of us at any point in time—for God is infinitely creative in the ways He flows to make His life abundant available to all. My situation, your situation, isn’t static—life always involves change—so the images which depict us will likely vary with time. Yet, as we contemplate such images I think we should honestly talk with Jesus about our desires and His plans. I suggest three questions:
“How do I view myself right now?”
“Jesus, how do you see me?”
And, for the brave, “Jesus, what would you have me become?”
Don’t be too surprised if in your own assessment of yourself you are not yet what you hope, but don’t be surprised either if what you hope to be is what Jesus says He would have you become. He is The One Who is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine!
Live as one blessed by God, because you are. (Pass it on!)